August is National Minority Donor Awareness Month (NMDAM). Its purpose is to save and improve the quality of life for diverse communities by creating a positive culture for eye, organ, and tissue donation.
This year marks the 25th year of NMDAM and its efforts to:
- Educate about eye, organ, and tissue donation and transplantation
- Encourage donor registration and family conversations about donation
- Promote healthy living and disease prevention to decrease the need for transplantation
Highlighting EBAA’s mission to #RestoreSight worldwide, here are a few stories of hope from members of minority communities, showcasing the transformative nature of cornea donation, the selflessness of being a donor, and why it’s so important to register and make your family members aware of your wishes.
Donor Family Member
In November of 2018, Tamika’s mother, Barb became an eye and tissue donor at the University of Kansas Hospital.
After her mother’s passing and donation, Tamika began an effort to spread awareness of donation, using the hashtag #LiveLikeBarb. She wanted others to understand how her mother lived with joy and gratitude, even while dealing with congestive heart failure, and the incredible gift she gave to others as a donor. Tamika had buttons designed with her mother’s image and the hashtag, which she distributes to others to wear as a reminder of Barb’s passion for donation.
Prior to her passing, Barb always let her wishes about donation known to her family, saying, “you can’t take it with you…” Tamika now considers it her life’s work to share her mother’s story and educate about donation. She says, “There is purpose in loss,” and today she works for Saving Sight, educating the local community about the importance of donation, how it transforms lives, and the mission to #RestoreSight.
Tamika also launched her own blog, The Process, at tamikamclaine.com, to share her perspective and thoughts on loss, grief, and healing.
Lions Eye Bank of Delaware Valley
Cameron was the “face” of Eye Donation Month in 2018. As the recipient of a corneal donation at 13, the gift of sight has allowed Cameron to live a full live and achieve his dreams.
Prior to his transplant, Cameron’s vision was blurred and out of focus – he was unable to see the world around him, which made him fell disconnected and insecure. Today, he is working towards his goals, attending Goldy-Beacom College pursuing a degree in business along with exploring hobbies like photography!
Giving another human being the opportunity to see the wonders of the world was something Tefa would have done without hesitation. Her happiness, peace, and serenity demonstrated that she appreciated every aspect, moment, person, and visual in her life.
“Vision was a gift from two people, and I needed to do something with it,” he said, explaining that the two organ donors who provided his corneas inspired him to start reclaiming his former active lifestyle.